Sustainability of the Loita Maasai childrens' ethnomedicinal knowledge

Jedidah Nankaya, Nathan Gichuki, Catherine Lukhoba, Henrik Balslev*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Knowledge and practice of medicinal plant use is embedded in the Maasai culture. However, it is not known how that knowledge and practices are acquired by children and transferred across generations. We assessed children's knowledge of medicinal plants and their uses, methods of knowledge acquisition and transfer, and how that process is influenced by demographic attributes such as gender, level of education, and age. We interviewed 80 children who were 6-17 years old. Mann-Whitney U, Kruskal-Wallis tests and Spearman Rank order correlation were performed to determine the influence of gender, level of education, and age when they are in the process of acquiring ethnomedicinal plant knowledge. The Maasai children acquired knowledge of medicinal plants progressively with their age. Ethnomedicinal knowledge was not influenced by gender or level of education. The children were introduced to the knowledge of local medicinal plants and their use at an average age of seven years and the knowledge was transferred indiscriminately to both girls and boys. This study aids in the protection and conservation of medicinal plant knowledge by encouraging the sustainability of the local cultural heritage.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5530
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Ethnobotany
  • Intergenerational transfer
  • Kenya
  • Loita
  • Medicinal knowledge transmission
  • Medicinal plant knowledge
  • Traditional knowledge


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